My Life in Holds

I have a love-hate relationship with the library. Love, because, well, it’s a library, and I can borrow things that I have no intention or desire to ever actually own. Hate, because I inevitably end up with fines since I typically misplace only those materials on which someone else has placed a hold. Library karma? And then there was the time that the library actually sent Marc a collections notice for his outstanding fines…alas, a different story for a different day. (To clear his name, though, I should tell you all that they lifted the fees after much ballyhoo on Marc’s part.)

So what does all of this have to do with My Life or My Holds? I’m getting there. Today, I checked my e-mail and found a hold notification for a few DVDs I requested for Max (yes, I let my toddler watch television…sue me!). What caught my eye, however, was a new area on the notice that read, “To protect your privacy, we cannot publicly display your name on materials being held for pick up. The Hold Shelf will be organized by Hold ID.” It went on to list my very own, personal Hold ID number. And it got me to thinking…is this really such a problem? As I was getting ready for bed, I told Marc about the new Hold IDs, and he said, “That kind of sucks.” “What part sucks?” I asked, to which he replied, “Well, it was just another clue.” I laughed…mainly because he was right.

Creepily enough, library holds are, indeed, a clue to what’s going on in someone’s life. I remembered a time that Marc came back from having lunch with a friend he hadn’t seen in awhile. As he recapped their time together, he told me a story about how he and the friend talked about having children. At some point, their conversation turned to how it took awhile for me to get pregnant, and the friend said to Marc, “Yeah…we wondered if you guys might have been having trouble getting pregnant because Nat kept noticing that Karen had a bunch of books about infertility on hold at the library.” What?!?! His wife’s last name also starts with an “M” and is just a few characters off of our own. I even grabbed one of my on-hold books at the library once only to find a note from her on a due-date receipt…it was sweet, just a quick note to say hello and that she hoped we were doing well. It never really occurred to me that someone might draw their own story of my life from the books I put on hold.

Marc and I got a good chuckle out of the nature of my holds over the last few years. So what did my on-hold story tell? Well, during the spring of 2007, they were all about getting ready to “try” to get pregnant. At that point, we thought it was going to be easy. There were books like Taking Charge of Your Fertility and others about “getting ready.” When it didn’t happen right away, there were books about changing your diet for fertility and yoga for fertility. Still nothing…more books…Infertility for Dummies, books about when to call a doctor, even more about what happens if it doesn’t happen. And then, voila! Anyone casing my spot on the on-hold shelf would have noticed books about pregnancy starting the following summer…a few months later, they were books about labor and delivery…next up, caring for newborns…throw in a few Dr. Sears’ books here and there, and one would know that we right on track for Max’s arrival in January of 2008. Over the last year and a half, there have been books by Anabel Karmel about The Top 100 Purees for Baby, Baby Super Foods, and Meal Planners for the Picky Eater; CDs ranging from Here Come the ABCs by They Might Be Giants to For the Kids (1, 2, & 3!); and just today, I picked up a couple of new Elmo’s World DVDs.

It was kind of fun to see our journey through the lens of the Dewey Decimal System and a metal shelf at the local library. From now on, though, I guess it will just be a story for us, alone. Well, us and the librarian.

To protect your privacy, we cannot publicly display your name on materials being held for pick up. The Hold Shelf will be organized by Hold ID.

Your Hold ID is:
MCA 8282

Internet Sensation?

Okay…I haven’t posted for months, but here I am. Last night, Broadway United Methodist Church opened its doors for the first in a series of monthly coffee house nights. I was pleased to see several cars in the parking lot when we arrived; the cold weather had me a little nervous about how many folks would come out for the inaugural java night. Once we made it down to the Wesley Room, quite a crowd was already gathered and listening to Anne McWilliams play & sing. It was great!

What brings me back to the ol’ Meandering Mango, though, is a little ditty that my dear husband, Marc, debuted at the coffee house last night. It’s a parody of Facebook status updates, all wrapped up into a catchy little tune he calls, “The Status of Our Lives.”  I think you’ll like it; our almost-one-year-old, Max, is a huge fan. In fact, he nearly danced himself out of his highchair while Marc was practicing the other night. Here it is for your viewing pleasure. And don’t miss out on next month’s coffee house night…it’s the third Friday of every month. Perhaps Marc will come up with something as equally hilarious by then. Enjoy!

And the biggest waste of plastic award goes to…

…Starbucks for this little beauty.

Seriously.  While I do think these “splash sticks” are especially cute, I don’t know if they’re really necessary.  Marc’s response, on the other hand, was, “It’s about time!” 

Welcome to the World, Landon

My nephew officially arrived on the scene this evening. I’ll post more tomorrow about the day, but here is a picture from shortly after his birth to tide folks over. The whole thing makes Marc and me extra excited about our own [quickly] impending visit from the stork!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Landon Christopher / 10-16-07 / 6:33PM / 7lb 13oz / 21.5″

The String Cheese Incident

Yes, I am aware that I’ve titled this post with the name of a early-90’s jam band. If you’re looking for them, go here. If not, read on, or feel free to read on even if you were looking for them…just know that I’m going to discuss an incident that involved an actual piece of string cheese.

As of late, Marc and I have taken to the Sunflower Market for our weekly grocery gathering. We were at first a little put off by the higher prices, but when I got a call from Marc one day that went something like this, I knew it was worth the extra pennies on a pound of apples.

Karen: Hello?

Marc: Hey, have you tried one of those apples yet?

Karen: Yeah…it was awesome.

Marc: I know! I started to eat it, and I was like, ‘Wait a minute…I haven’t eaten an apple that tasted like this since I was a kid.’ I mean, it actually tasted like…an apple.

From that day on, Sunflower Market became our Sunday afternoon grocery shopping ritual — although we do still go to Kroger for our milk and sugar cereals. When we started to really look at our bills, we noticed that it was really a wash between Sunflower and other chain stores like Kroger or Marsh. While some items cost more, others cost less or were at least comparable. And I felt a smidgen better knowing that our bananas weren’t fertilized with sewage sludge and didn’t undergo ionizing radiation — yes, those are two stipulations in the USDA’s “organic labeling” guidelines…so what are they doing to the “normal” produce? Anyhow, I digress.

One of my new favorite products are the Horizon Organic Mozzarella String Cheese Sticks. Now I realize that most people probably stopped eating string cheese when they were, say, eight years old. But I was looking for something to keep around as a quick snack, and these bad boys pack in 8 grams of protein per stick along with 20% of your DRA of calcium. And since I fill up so much more easily now that my baby belly is getting bigger, I often find myself digging for a snack at odd times. So on my way out the door a few weeks ago, I grabbed a couple of cheese sticks to take to work.

Let me explain that my office has one cool feature — we have an unlimited supply of bottled water and soda in our refrigerator. And as far as the free-for-all, that’s where it stops. Folks will bring in their lunches, leftovers, snacks, etc. and leave them in the fridge or the freezer. And since we’re all adults, no one bothers to put their name on their food. I mean, let’s face it, if you don’t remember opening your refrigerator door at home, grabbing a couple of organic cheese sticks, sticking them in your bag and then unloading them into the safe keeping of the butter tray at work, then you probably won’t eat them, right? Wrong. The first time I noticed the offense, I truthfully thought that they had perhaps been thrown out during the routine funk-removal from the work fridge. I would have understood that. The individual cheese packages don’t have an expiration date on them — although I can imagine that string cheese probably has the shelf life of a Twinkie — so I thought that the gals might have pitched them thinking that they were old. And I didn’t think much about it again until yesterday when I went back to the kitchen at work to grab a cheese stick snack towards the end of the day. In the thirty or so yards that comprised my stroll to the kitchen, I had really psyched myself up for this string cheese. I pulled open the door, looked into the butter tray, and nothing. Just two pieces of string cheese that were not mine…no cute little leaping cow on the label.


I was shocked, and my face must have shown it, because a co-worker was walking back that way just as I made my disturbing discovery. Dumbfounded, I glanced his way and said, “Somebody took my cheese stick.” Looking back on the situation, it was probably pretty amusing to hear a grown woman complain of such a school cafeteria-type violation, but he was very sympathetic and even offered me a Clif Bar from his desk. I graciously declined and informed him that I would just eat the banana I had at my desk.  At that point, I was still willing to believe that my first batch of cheese sticks were accidentally pitched and that my third cheese stick had just hastily been nabbed my someone who mistook their own non-leaping-cow-packaged cheese stick for mine.  On my way back, I stopped at a friend’s desk and asked if she happened to bring cheese sticks to work.  She said that she didn’t, so I explained why in the world I was asking about such a random food question.  When I finished my story, she said that my string cheese wasn’t the first item to fall prey to the phantom food snatcher.  Another friend from work had her frozen chicken fingers thieved from the freezer.  Who does that?

It turns out that there is another co-worker who brings string cheese, but when somebody mentioned the whole fiasco, she said that she knew my cheese had a little cow on it.  And I whole-heartedly believe her.  So who is the mystery food thief?  I guess only time will tell.  Maybe if we slipped a little Ex-lax into something really tempting.  Hmm… that’s a thought.

“Alice Walker’s Turnips Will Do Nothing to Save the World”

When you have a spare fifteen or twenty minutes (washing the dishes, working out, bored at work), take the opportunity to listen to the message given by the Rev. Donna Schaper to Broadway United Methodist Church on September 23rd. Her words are challenging and often uncomfortable, but she forces you to think of things in a new light. Love it or hate it, her message won’t let you off the hook easily.

Shall We Grow Turnips or Save the World?

Pick Your Poison

We celebrated a couple of friends’ birthdays this evening at Benihana, and when our waitress came around to take drink orders, Marc asked for a Sprite and a water. Surprisingly, the waitress seemed a little confused by his request. We thought that we had it all straightened out when the waitress held up two fingers, which we presumed meant that she would bring out two glasses — one with Sprite and one with water. But lo and behold, when the drinks arrived, Marc looked surprised to see just one glass with a few meager bubbles floating around inside. He started giggling and said, “Honey, I think that she didn’t understand what I meant. I think she thought I meant Sprite and water in the same glass.” No way. I removed the cover from the straw and took a sip. Sure enough…Sprite and water. The best part was that she brought out several refills of this soda/water combo, and Marc didn’t say a word. He just continued to suck it down. Later, when I asked why he didn’t say anything or ask her for two separate drinks, he said that he couldn’t bring himself to do it because she was just so nice, and he kept picturing her back in the kitchen with the two hoses — one Sprite, one water — carefully being sure to get just the right proportions. Good thing he didn’t order OJ and Coca-cola.

365 Days Ago…


I decided to start Meandering Mango 365 days ago today. It may have evolved from a boring day at work or the need to creatively post pictures of Marc’s and my awesome bike ride to the French Market and beyond. Regardless, this has been a great outlet for me to let you all in on the crazy world of Mango. Thanks for listening!

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Yesterday, as Marc stood talking with a neighbor and the neighbor’s daughter, I think he half expected Bill Cosby to walk out and play host to the dialogue going on between them.  It turns out that our neighbors are getting married soon, and while Marc and I fully did not expect to be invited — we’ve only known them for the few months since they moved in — our neighbor’s daughter (she’s 6 years old) obviously had different thoughts on the matter.

Neighbor’s Daughter:   Oh, oh, oh!  (Tugging neighbor’s arm.)  Are Marc and Karen invited to the wedding?

Marc and Neighbor stand awkwardly, as adults do, trying to figure out the most PC/polite/diplomatic way to address her question.

Marc:  Oh, sweetie.  You see, we would love to be there, but we are actually going to be very, very busy next weekend.  (Kudos to Marc for his quick thinking.)  But remember that we will be there in spirit, and we’ll be thinking about you guys the whole day.

Neighbor’s Daughter seems to be okay with this.  Until…

Neighbor:  And, honey, remember that we’ve only invited about 25 people.

Neighbor’s Daughter:  No we didn’t!  We invited 100 people.  Because there are 100 gifts that we bought to give to all of the people we invited!

I know that my time is coming.  In a few years, I’m sure that I’ll be involved in plenty of those conversations where I look around to find the nearest rock to crawl under when little Bean says something completely off — and probably completely honest — to someone with whom we’re speaking.  I love it that children don’t always understand the nuances of adult conversations…most of all I love it because they haven’t learned yet to be ruled completely by the edit button that continually runs in most of our minds.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not advocating for children to freely blurt out rude or hurtful comments, but I think that sometimes we could all take a little cue from their truthfulness. 

Meditations on Five

Had you asked me seven years ago what I would be doing today, it probably wouldn’t have been this. Not that I know for sure what it would have been, but probably not this. And I mean that in the best of ways. Seven years ago, I was still working at a clothing store in the midst of deciding not to go to law school after already enrolling and processing my loans. I was going out for vodkas with pineapple juice until 2AM and sleeping until 10:00. I got a dog from the pound that destroyed my apartment and had to go back just three days later. It was a totally different life back then…but it was a passageway to my life today, and I’m thankful for that.

On New Year’s Eve of 2000, a friend asked me to join up with a group of folks going to Palomino to ring in the New Year. And fast forward through pretty much the entire evening, I remember getting ready to leave and seeing Marc trying to arrange travel for everyone to get to another party. As we were leaving the restaurant, I recall him asking if we had arrangements to get there. When we said, “Yes,” he said, “Are you sure? Because it’s dangerous out there.” I thought it was so cute and so thoughtful. And to this day, I remember very specific snippets of that evening…the evening I first met my husband. There was the moment I looked over to notice him playing the organ in the entryway of the hosts’ house. Or when we stood outside talking about Rumi the Sufi poet. We didn’t exchange numbers or make plans for seeing each other again, but somewhere deep within us the seed was planted that would eventually grow the amazing life we share together now.

As I reflect back on all of the tiny and gigantic pieces that have made up our lives together since that cold December 31st seven years ago, I can’t help but feel full. Full of hope, and joy, and love, and memories, and plans, and dreams….I could go on and on. Full in the same way you feel satisfied after a great meal, an afternoon spent with a long-time friend, or a day at the beach when your skin feels nice and warm and you can taste the salt-water dried on your lips. Full…and happy.

I never dreamed back then that I would feel the kind of love that we share or experience the joy that comes from spending each day with the one you’re meant to have found…the one your heart has known all along and only comes home to by chance encounter. But in a way I’m kind of glad. It’s nice to have a surprise that unfolds before my eyes without notions or expectations of how it is “supposed” to be. And when I think back over everything we’ve done so far — two apartments, a rental house, a stint with the in-laws, a new house, a cat, a dog, many travels, laughs and tears, a baby on the way, the eternal slumber party — I can’t help but marvel at how it’s all just the beginning of all of the wonderful things yet to be discovered about “us.”

As I meditate on “5,” I guess I just want to revel in the mystery and whimsy that has been our last five years together as husband and wife. So Happy Anniversary, Marc! Here’s to the last five and to an infinity of fives to come! I Love You!

“This is how I would die into the love I have for you
As pieces of cloud dissolve in sunlight.” — Rumi